Kiwi co-operatives celebrate success

Kiwi co-operatives celebrate success


Co-operatives are the business model that has stood the test of time, says the country’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance who is himself a member of five Kiwi co-ops.

Bill English was speaking at the Cooperative Business New Zealand Annual Awards Dinner, held at Wellington’s Basin Reserve on August 10.

Mr English addressed an audience comprising the leaders of co-operatives including dairy giant Fonterra which can trace its co-op origins back to 1871 on the Otago peninsula.

“Organisations such as yours (co-operatives) have the people, structure and culture that stand the test of time. It is this positive, long-term view that delivers long-term economic success,” he said.

The event was a celebration of all things co-operative with six awards presented during the evening in recognition of outstanding governance, leadership and enduring service across the co-operative sector.

Cooperative Business NZ directors judged the impressive range of entries for the awards which featured three new categories this year (1st June 2015 to 31st May 2016).

Chairman Jonathan Lee said the winners demonstrated all that was good about the co-operative business model which places community service and care for shareholders’ wellbeing alongside economic performance as key measures of success.

“This year’s nominees and recipients were all of an exceptional calibre, with the winners really demonstrating the positive influence the co-operative business model has for its members, staff and local communities they operate in,” Mr Lee said.

The 2016 Cooperative Business New Zealand Annual Award Winners are:

  • Co-operative Leader of the YearMark McHardy, GM Farmlands Fuel
  • Co-operative Business of the YearFarmers Mutual Group (FMG)
  • Outstanding Co-operative ContributionPhil McKendry, Chairman Ashburton Trading Society (ATS)
  • Enduring Service AwardFonterra (100+ Years category), established 1871
  • Enduring Service AwardFoodfirst (25+ years category), established 1987; and
  • Enduring Service AwardITM (25+ years category), established 1991.

Co-operative Business NZ Chief Executive Craig Presland paid tribute to the award recipients.

Co-operative Leader of the YearMark McHardy, GM Farmlands Fuel

Mr Presland said Mark McHardy was the standout nominee for this award which recognised an individual who has shown significant co-operative leadership either within a member’s co-operative or the co-operative sector generally.

“Mark’s successes as General Manager of Farmlands Fuel across over 62,000 customers have been based in strong co-operative principles,” he said.

“These include leveraging the collective buying power of the group and displaying a strong vision and determination in ensuring full health and safety compliance. In true co-operative style, Mark has led Farmlands Fuel’s involvement in community projects including bringing Super Rugby back to grassroots with pre-season trainings and matches hosted on paddocks owned by one of Farmlands’ shareholders”.

Co-operative Business of the YearFarmers Mutual Group (FMG)

Mr Presland said the winner of the inaugural Co-operative Business of the Year award, Farmers Mutual Group (FMG), led the way in making a significant and positive impact within the co-operative community.

“Co-operatives return value to their shareholders in many different ways – not just the bottom line. FMG leads the way here in New Zealand, no better example being its concern for the well-being of farmers and growers nationwide with its Farmstrong programme. In challenging economic times, Farmstrong is aiming to shift the focus of mental health from depression and illness to one of well-being.

“In addition, in true co-operative spirit, FMG has been fully involved in community investment with such programmes as principal sponsorship of Young Farmer of the Year, rural crime prevention advice and guidance, and support for farmers and growers by attending, hosting and sponsoring some 600 rurally focussed events across New Zealand each year.”

Outstanding Co-operative ContributionPhil McKendry, Chairman Ashburton Trading Society

Craig Presland first met Phil McKendry during a visit to NZ’s self-proclaimed ‘co-op capital’, Ashburton, in June and was instantly inspired by this champion of the co-operative business model.

“When I met Phil he explained to me why he is driven to lead a rural co-op that, since 1963, has worked hard to lower the cost of farm suppliers, fertilizer, fuel and electricity within the Mid-Canterbury region. His reasoning was simply: ‘Because everyone deserves it’.

“His nomination reflected many of the good things about the co-operative business model. This includes developing a board that works collaboratively in making decisions that ensure long term and sustainable success.

“Phil nurtures the next level of co-operative leadership and ensures ATS’s shareholders are at the heart of all decisions.  He has developed a co-operative spirit and culture that has become a key factor in attracting staff and customers to ATS. He has also helped lead strong community investment and social responsibility as an employer and key service provider locally,” Mr Presland said.

Mr McKendry has been a member of the Ashburton Trading Society (ATS) for 23 years. He was appointed to the board in 1998, the last five years as chairman. He holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Science (Hons) degree from Lincoln University, is a chartered member of the Institute of Directors and, with his wife Judith, farms a 200ha arable property near Methven.